Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The mind literally boggles

I am sure the reader (that is, the only one who doesn't just scroll down for the pictures) will have noticed by now that I am quite unhealthily fond of intentionally abusing the word 'literally' for my own amusement. I've been a fan of this for quite some time, but in recent months it has become something of an obsession to listen out for misuses of the word, and also to make mockery by misusing it myself in highly inappropriate contexts. This is, of course, a wonderful and not-atall-tiresome routine, and one which could fairly be characterised as the greatest form of irreverent semantic satire (an up-and-coming genre, just you watch). I tell you, it's literally a barrell of laughs.

The degree to which the word 'literally' is literally abused is quite astonishing. One of the main reasons for it seems to be that many people incorrectly assume they can use it for emphasis, e.g. 'I am literally fuming about this...' (to which I would reply: 'Then please excuse me, as I must leave the room so as to avoid any lasting respiratory damage.') As the word is most commonly abused verbally, many of my favourite examples of its misuse have been provided while watching television. For example, during an episode of the latest series of capitalist CockneyTV series The Apprentice, I was stunned to hear one of the contestants Claire, 29, talking about her imminent appearance in the boardroom. "I can literally feel the guillotine inches from my neck", she claimed dubiously. This is wrong on SO MANY COUNTS (specifically two). (1) One, there wasn't a guillotine in sight, sadly, and (2) Two, even if there was, if it was inches away from her neck she would certainly not be able to feel it. In my experience, a guillotine is not truly felt until it slices into the skin on the neck and blood starts to spurt out like the juice when someone bites sharply into an over-ripe tomato (great fun).

One of the best examples I've heard about, but sadly didn't witness myself, is Question of Sport captain and silly-sport-rugby's Matt Dawson's contention that he was going to "literally grab the bull by the horns" by answering a question on the programme's picture round. Indeed, dim sportsmen are prime candidates for this crime, and it was one such dim sportsman who inspired this post. Just over a week ago, during ITV's coverage of Euro2008, pundit and ex-Boro captain Andy Townsend, 44, literally came out with the most blind and ill-conceived use of the word 'literally' I've heard. While describing the Turkish defence's tight marking of the Czech Republic's strikers, he said: "Look there... Servet [a Turkish defender] is literally, literally up his backside." As soon as I heard him say 'literally' twice, I knew he was in trouble, but I still didn't think he could get it quite so wrong. Surely ensconcing oneself within an opponent's rectal passage would constitute a foul in the modern game? You might have got away with it twenty years ago, but not today; especially not with these soft European referees who blow their whistle if you so much as tickle someone's chin. I was literally laughing my socks off. So next time I buy socks I'll make sure I get some with well-elasticised ankle grips, to make sure that won't happen again.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Falling down stairs doesn’t only happen in the movies

There were Incredible Scenes™ today at work, where I was given essential Health and Safety training to prevent me from succumbing to the pitfalls of working in an office environment (however, as far as I can tell, my office is not located within a pit anyway so the pitfalls are hardly relevant). The session was replete with a fantastic educational video to literally drive home the Health and Safety message. And then get invited in for a coffee by it. Weehhyyy, AND THE REST, phwoar, she can bend my knees and straighten my back any day of the week, etc etc.

This video is sure to go down somewhere in my official Top 7 Educational Videos of Comedic Value, thus affording it the heady status of being grouped with such wild pleasures as a GCSE Biology video on sustainable crops in which a man said: “Peas; I could talk to you for hours about peas.” Today’s video was presented by a little-known BBC South West newsreader operating under some great misapprehension that viewers would automatically know who she was: “You’ll be more used to seeing me in the newsroom...” Actually, luv, I’m much more used to never seeing you at all.

In the video’s early stages came the marvellous line: “Falling down stairs doesn’t only happen in the movies”. This statement was astonishingly prophetic. Just moments later, the female actor on the screen took an agonising tumble down some steps in a manner which can only be described as ‘akin to when Helen Daniels fractured her hip by tripping over some loose carpet and falling down the stairs in Neighbours in 1996’. The guffaws in the room were stifled, however, when the narrator continued and informed us that “this lady’s fall ended fatally when her head’s impact on a step led to a brain haemorrhage”. Frika. I will never descend a flight of stairs in the same way again. And nor should you, if you’ve any sense about you.

A window will never be opened in the same way either: “This man fell to the ground after leaning too far while opening a jammed window on the third storey of his building.” Other things I learnt include the following: never use a swivel chair as a stool; never attempt to floss with a live electronic cable; don’t try to staple your eyelid to your chin. Clearly, public sector offices are very dangerous places, but nobody warned me of this fact. If I’d wanted an element of risk in my life I would’ve gone for a job as an extreme/'Xtreme'/'Xtrm' sports instructor (and then hated myself for eternity). I may have to move jobs. People moving jobs doesn’t only happen in the movies.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

See all evil

I literally, literally leapt out of my skin when I stumbled upon this fat feathered fuck outside Flat C yesterday afternoon.

It was so fat that it didn't appear to have any legs, or whatever 'it' is 'they' have. Despite my presence, it hardly flinched, and simply watched from the corners of its evil little eyes. Very haunting and paranoia-inducing, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Driving me crazy

Manchester was this morning the scene for a go-slow protest against rising fuel prices involving around 500 bikers and 40 truckers. What a load of knobs. Yes, petrol prices have risen quite dramatically recently and, yes, the small, independent hauliers are being hit hardest by the situation, but I find it frustrating that these types of people can only ever get worked up about matters surrounding motoring. Motorcyclists are particularly annoying; they are a danger to everyone and wear annoying clothes. These two simple facts should preclude them from possessing any form of influence. Rather than constantly moaning about tax, all of these people should channel their energies into campaigning against the more pressing and pertinent matters of significance and gravity, such as the distortion of the global economy to ensnare whole continents in poverty, and Fern Britton's great gastric betrayal.

Despite owning a car myself, I'd say drivers must be one of the most reprehensible social groups around, and I fear being lumped in with them. I don't want to be literally bundled together with such motoring acolytes as fascism's Jeremy Clarkson, but it seems I am given little choice by the media. Evidence of this fact could be found on the front page of yesterday's Daily Express - in my eyes what can only be described as 'the world's greatest newspaper'. Although I must say I've been immensely fond of the Whitby Gazette ever since spending some time there on work experience. Anyway, the Express declared: 'POTHOLED ROADS ARE A NATIONAL DISGRACE'. This was the front page news, somehow ahead of all the terrible things happening in the world and even its articles outlining why it believes it was gypsies and asylum seekers that killed Diana in that tunnel that night in Paris.

Of all people, I should really be more concerned about potholes than most because the Padmobile is so rusty and dishevelled that it no longer displays any evidence of suspension. However I realise there are worse plights in life than the way in which I lose a filling every time I drive over a pothole. In the Express' article, I was concerned by the manner in which there was repeated use of the term "...drivers said", as if drivers are one unified national voice of distaste, regardless of all our differences and my unique qualities. In reality, it transpires that these quotes being attributed to 'drivers' are merely the individual opinions of the president of the AA. Therefore, for the avoidance of any doubt I have decided that from now on I will regard myself as someone who drives, but certainly not a driver. So now you know.

Monday, June 02, 2008

You Woke Up My Neighbourhood

Contrary to popular belief, my nemesi (pl.) pigeons are not the only thing terrorising me here in Flat C. I've never mentioned it before, as I generally don't like to cause a fuss, but there is another menace attempting to jeopardise my contentment in the ganglands of south Manchester. And no, it's not the guns; I can handle those, so long as they're not too heavy, excessively hot, or real. The problem is the girl living directly beneath our flat who stages painfully loud and quite literally blazing rows with her boyfriend. She is an utter nutter. These one-sided rows (he rarely responds) often last a number of hours, or if not, will occur several times a day. Ever since moving in last September, I have been regularly disturbed from my most important domestic functions - sleep, gambling, and darts - by what can only be described as primal barking from her below, a.k.a. The Shrieking Hound. Better seen and not heard, alright luv? Best regards, Richard Littlejohn.

This morning took the biscuit, and I mean that quite literally (I'm hoping to get the Chocolate Hob-Nob back when the morning returns tomorrow). The day was booked off work in order to enjoy an extended lie-in and day of recuperation following a weekend in Edinburgh for the marriage of friend and serial commentee on this here so-called blog, Dan, 26, orator. After such a meandering journey of emotional excess and drink-filled days and nights, I surely deserved to surpass the 11am mark. Instead, I was awake by 8am because of that bloody girl and her white noise. Who the hell decides to have a row at that time of the day? I couldn't have been more rudely awoken unless I'd been bashed over the head with a massive phallic ornament with speech capabilities and which repeatedly uttered in my ear such wild obscenities as 'tits', 'nutfuck' and 'quackerknacker'.

It's very hard to convey precisely how ridiculous this woman is. But it's worth noting that on one occasion she began her barking at 3.30am and continued all the way through until around 8am. Incredible stamina. It's often quite hard to decipher what these rows are about, but I would suggest it's something similar to 'nothing'. She often runs like this: "You're HORRIBLE! HORRIBLE SHIT... you are SO horrible! You do it again, you do it AGAIN... do it AGAIN, AGAIN; AGAI-AGAI-AGAI-AGAI-AGAI-AGAIN!!" What her poor, suffering boyfriend keeps doing again and again has been a mystery, but this morning she went slightly off script and delivered this insightful gem: "You were on Facebook for THREE HOURS, and you didn't even LOOK AT ME!" Priceless.

I'll never comprehend where people find the energy to get so angry as her. It seems far too much of an effort to me. Plus, in a true 'boy who cried wolf' style, when she's got a genuine problem in life her cries for help will probably go ignored. There is a school of thought which dictates that we should let our emotions hang out (literally) and release our angry feelings, but I say bollocks to that. 'Bollocks to that.' Bottle it all up whenever possible - that's my policy. Firstly, it doesn't ruin other people's lives, and secondly, it also helps you remain more sane. When annoying things happen to me, I always try to ensure I retain some perspective rather than (literally) lose my head. For instance, a couple of weeks ago my car window was put through by someone - I strongly suspect a pigeon - and, although it was irritating, I didn't scream and shout. That's how bloody great I am. I instead thought about all the far worse things which have happened in life, could have happened that day or which will happen in the future, such as deaths in the family, a lasting debilitating injury, or Boro releasing Emmanuel Pogatetz from his contract. While some say it's a character flaw to be incapable of displaying extreme emotions, I can now inform you that they are wrong. WRONG, I TELL YOU! Now PISS OFF! OUT! GO AWAY! ARGGGGHHHHHHH!!!111!1 FFS.